Ireland avenged their 2019 Rugby World Cup loss against Japan, putting in an all-court performance to dismantle the Brave Blossoms in Dublin on Saturday.
Ireland great Johnny Sexton celebrated his 100th Test for his country with 16 points as Ireland routed Japan 60-5 in their one-off Test at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
The 36-year-old flyhalf drew his second standing ovation of the day when he went over for a try early in the second half.
He converted it, provoking a huge grin to spread across his face, and eventually left to another standing ovation just after the hour mark.
A totally one-sided encounter also featured three tries from wing Andrew Conway and appropriately another Test centurion, Cian Healy, rounded off the scoring with a try in the final minute.
An emotional Sexton could barely be heard above the roar and cheers of the crowd as he was interviewed post-match on the pitch.
“It has been an incredible day for me and my family – most of them are here, many came up from Kerry.
“The reception for the try in the corner is one of the most memorable of my career and I will never forget it.”
He added: “I feel a little bit guilty as over the past two years friends of mine like Cian Healy won his 100th cap and there was no crowd, so I feel a bit guilty and I will remember it forever, thank you so much.”
Conway told Channel Four that Sexton “drives us like no one I have ever seen”.
“He can be narky at times but this is a physical sport and we need that in training sessions,” he added.
Sexton is the seventh Irishman to win 100 caps for his country joining the likes of compatriots Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell in reaching the milestone.
He says he never thought in a million years he would reach that figure when he made his Test debut aged 24 against Fiji in 2009.
Among the many plaudits he has received this week, Ireland head coach Andy Farrell termed him “a once-in-a-generation player”.
The 2018 World Player of the Year’s landmark appearance was not enough of a draw to fill the stadium.
There were many empty spaces in what is the first match at Lansdowne Road where a capacity crowd has been permitted since the coronavirus pandemic struck last year.
Farrell will be delighted he was able to pull Sexton off with half an hour to go as the Irish face a far more daunting challenge next Saturday against New Zealand.